Parker Fadley had it all: perfect grades, a gorgeous boyfriend, and she was captain of the cheerleading squad. But now she’s struggling to even stay on track to graduate from high school with her classmates. She no longer cheers, and she and her boyfriend Chris have broken up. And that’s just fine with Parker. She’s worked hard to alienate everyone, and she can easily explain the slide in her grades: she quit coming to class, and when she did come, half of the time she was drunk. But the question is, why did Parker suddenly change? And everyone around her wonders what they can do to bring the old Parker back. But Parker doesn’t want to go back to the way she was. And there’s a reason.
Honestly, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would. There were times when I was reading it that I wondered why I continued to read. Parker was mean. And it became clear throughout the book that the meanness wasn’t a new thing: she was kind of awful even before her rapid transformation. I don’t think she was mean intentionally (all the time, anyway), but she did allow herself to treat people poorly. She was selfish, and mean, and not someone I’d choose to be around.
But honestly, I think Courtney Summers, the author, absolutely did a fantastic job with Parker’s character. Sometimes, teenagers are mean. There were times when I was younger that I did things that were *really* mean. Thankfully, most of those things were out of my system before I started high school (and I hope I was done with being mean completely by the time I finished high school). And Summers doesn’t excuse Parker’s behavior because something traumatic happened to her. Yes, something traumatic happened, but Parker’s behavior really didn’t come out of nowhere.
Additionally, Parker’s relationships with other characters were something of a head-scratcher to me: many of them kept coming back to her and wanting to be around her, in spite of the fact that she was so difficult and mean. I can almost understand it with some of the characters, considering they’d all known her before. It was habit, almost. But one of the characters was “the new kid” (a character that seems to be a staple of many YA books and movies), who seemed to invest a lot of emotion in Parker in spite of the fact that she frequently warned him away.
Throughout the book, Summers gradually reveals what happened to cause Parker’s dramatic transformation, and all is revealed at the end of the novel. It’s a good explanation, but not a great one, and I actually felt a little let down at the end. But I think that’s more my issue than any problem with the book. I’ve found in the past that sometimes my personal quirks affect my view of the story, and I think that might be true in this case.
Overall, I thought it was a book with a lot of potential, and I look forward to reading more from Ms. Summers in the future.